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July 24, 2015

Two Weeks in Iceland, Day 2: The Golden Circle - Þingvellir, Geyser & Gullfoss

Driving away from Reykjavik in our newly-acquired rental car provided instant gratification at the start of day two in Iceland. Huge snow-capped mountains appeared on the horizon as we headed for a quick lopapeysur stop-off at the recommended hand-knitting hotspot of Alafoss in Mosfellsbær.

At Alafoss I bought my most beloved Iceland souvenir: a beautiful cream-coloured lopapeysur cardigan with black and blue pattern. The label said my cardigan was knitted by "Jenny", and it kept me warm throughout our journey.

We met our first sweet Icelandic horses near Alafoss before getting back into the car on the road to the first stop of the "Golden Circle", Þingvellir - the site of Iceland's first parliament and the world's first democracy. Aside from all of the interesting history surrounding the area, Þingvellir was amazingly pretty. I especially loved the little church there, and the sparkly blue waters of the Flosagjá rift (where two tectonic plates are slowly drifting apart). In Japan, I'm sure you could declare this place a "power spot".

On we went to Laugarvatn where we had amazing pulled lamb burgers for lunch and studied the large road map which would be with us every step of the way from then on. By the end of our trip the map would become so worn and used (and loved).

Ticking another big item off the classic Iceland sightseeing list, we headed on to the highly active Geysir Hot Spring area where the Strokkur geyser sends a stream of water whooshing up into the sky every few minutes, before refilling to start the cycle again. It's hard to pull yourself away from watching Strokkur; the climax of a geyer's eruption is really something to see. Although busloads of tourists are dropped off here, nothing can detract from the amazing feat of nature.

Our last stop for the day was Gullfoss, a double cascade waterfall drenched in sunlight when we arrived, with a perfect rainbow above the falls. 

Gullfoss (along with Þingvellir and the Geysir Hot Spring Area) was a great introduction to the magical natural sights of Iceland we would continue to encounter along our journey.

I was really glad to experience the Golden Circle attractions so early in our trip as it cleared the way for the unknown. Although it may seem too "touristy" at first, you come to learn that popular sightseeing spots are popular for a reason (most of the time). The Golden Circle of Þingvellir, Geyser & Gullfoss shouldn't be missed on a trip to Iceland.

We got a little off track on the way to our night's accommodation, and when we did arrive at the Fagrilundur Guesthouse in Reykholt we realised that our rental car had a flat tyre and it was too late to do anything about it! Trying to put the flat tyre out of our minds until the morning, we reflected on a beautiful day over dinner and got an early night.

To be continued

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